Explore a different side of Okinawa on Zamami! Be sure to take plenty of yen, as very few businesses on the island take card. Zamami requires a ferry ride to visit. You have two options: the slower Zamami ferry accommodates cars, motorcycles, and bikes, and takes two hours. The faster Queen Zamami 3, for passengers only, is a 50-minute trip. You can purchase tickets on the day, but to guarantee a spot, call and book at 098-868-4567. English is spoken but limited. You pay for tickets on that day (if you book, you’ll get a reservation number) and pick up from the main building of Tomari port in Naha. Zamami ticket window is on the far left. Fill out a slip at the desk, take it to the counter, and pay. Both ferries are on the far side of the port (staff will provide a map). There’s multi-level parking next to the port, around 1200 yen per day. More info here: zamamienglishguide.com/ferries.
Zamami has hotels, but the best way to visit may be camping! Ama campsite has tent spaces, so bring your own or rent to save on luggage. It’s next to Ama beach, home to sea turtles and amazing snorkeling. Be sure to abide by the rules to protect the coral and marine life (there’s a sign in Japanese and English). Camping costs 300 yen per night; no reservation is required. It’s equipped with toilets and shower facilities, too.
Whale of a time
Zamami is known for whale watching tours from late December to early April. Humpback whales migrate to Okinawa’s warm waters annually to mate and birth their young. Find more information about tours here: vill.zamami.okinawa.jp/whale/english.html
Life’s a beach
The most popular and beautiful beach is Furuzamami, with creamy sand, marine life near shore, and activities like snorkeling, diving, surfing, and kayaking. Best way to get here is the bus from the port. Use exact change, and board outside the main port building. There’s a timetable in Japanese and English there for the bus, as well as at the bus stops at Ama and Furuzamami.
A sweet love story
One of Zamami’s famous residents is Marilyn, a dog statue. She’s a 10-minute walk from port, in the direction of Ama campsite. She looks out toward neighboring Aka island (get to Aka via speedboat ferry at the port; it runs four times daily). On Aka is another dog statue, Shiro. Shiro and Marilyn were lovebirds, inseparable until Shiro and his owner moved to Aka. For years locals told tales of seeing Shiro swim the 3km from Aka to Zamami to see Marilyn, until her death. It inspired the 1988 film “Maririn Ni Aitai” (“I want to see Marilyn”). I recommend seeing Marilyn, and then hopping on a ferry to Aka to visit Shiro.
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